Over at his blog, Rev. Mason Beecroft posts his sermon from yesterday in which he laments that the LCMS calls August 15th "Mary, Mother of our Lord" instead of "Mary, Mother of God." (Okay, he rails). I think he overstates his case a bit too much -- I don't think it is inappropriate in the slightest to echo Elizabeth's words from the Gospel and call Mary the Mother of our Lord. I do prefer the term "Mother of God", for reasons which will be clear shortly - but is Mother of our Lord off base? No.
However, Rev. Beecroft does have good cause underlining his rant. Nestorianism is a problem.
So what is Nestorianism? Nestorius was the Patriarch of Constantinople, and he ended up rejecting the idea of calling Mary the Mother of God. . . said that one could call her the Mother of Christ, but not the Mother of God. Well, let's think about this logically. Is Jesus God? Yes. Is Mary the Mother of Jesus? Yes. Therefore, is Mary the Mother of God? Yes. That child that Mary carries in her womb is God. Now, is that God the Father? No. Is He God the Spirit? No. But that Child is the 2nd Person of the Trinity, and when you see that Child, you see God.
So, when Nestorius said that Mary was only the mother of Christ and not the Mother of God, Nestorius said that Mary was the Mother of a Man who was the Christ, but not really the Mother of God. So what does this do? It splits Jesus into 2 - a Divine Part and a Human Part, that don't really act in concert. His Body is separated from His Divinity. And as such, Jesus isn't really Immanuel, God with us, any more. There's a man, a body with us, but "God" is still far off. It means that God doesn't really give His life for us upon the cross. . . because that life is just the body's life and not God's.
Now, Luther is actually sympathetic towards Nestorius, because Nestorius didn't think a lot of these things through -- but folks that followed after him did, and Nestorianism was a vile thing.
So where does that leave us today? Most Protestants have Nestorian leanings. What do I mean? Consider this typical protestant statement, "The Bread and Wine in the Lord's Supper can't be the Body and Blood of Jesus, because Jesus' Body and Blood are in heaven." That's a Nestorian view -- why? It puts limits upon what Jesus can do... separating His Body from His Divinity. If Jesus says, "This is My Body" - He's God, He can do it. But what we see in a lot of talk today is language limiting Jesus.
It is as though they were to say, "Jesus can't simply enter the locked upper room because Human Bodies don't do that!" Now, no one is going to say that (well, very few, there are some highly liberal scholars who say that someone must have let Him in) - but it's the same idea. Why can Jesus just enter the room? Because He is resurrected and glorified and exercises His divine power in His Body whenever He wills. Likewise, in the Supper, Jesus exercises His divine power in His Body whenever He wills, and He wills to give you His Body to eat and His Blood to drink for the forgiveness of your sins.
Okay, okay, we get it - but why is this really such a problem. . . why is it so bad if someone can't understand the Supper and wants to take a symbolic view? First off, no one can "understand" the Supper - I confess that it is Christ's Body and Blood, but this is a mystery that is beyond my little mind... don't be so arrogant as to think you can our ought comprehend the things of God. We confess what He has revealed.
Second, it denies the Word of God. "Did God really say" is the root of all temptation... this opens the door to all sorts of other temptations and tomfoolery with the Scriptures.
Third, and most importantly, it pulls God away from salvation. The point, the whole ideal of what salvation is rests upon the fact that God Himself comes to sinners - that the Good Shepherd finds you, the lost sheep, that He comes to you and heals you. And then, this horrid doctrine teaches that God doesn't really come to you. . . there could be nothing less comforting or horrific than that.
This is why you have so many Protestants talking about how one needs to go to God. . . they make God powerless. This is why you have so many worried about works - not in service to the neighbor, but in terms of what they have to do to get closer to Jesus. It's all law, it's all weight, it's all burden, and faith is crushed.
Do not be a Nestorian! Rather, simply confess what Christ has said to you.